Chico Outdoor Adventurer Boating Rafting / Kayaking Fishing

Experience the Sacramento River in Butte County

The Sacra­men­to Riv­er is California’s largest riv­er, and Butte County’s share of it at the Bid­well-Sacra­men­to Riv­er State Park show­cas­es some of the best riv­er recre­ation in the state! These twists and turns are home to leg­endary tub­ing adven­tures and spec­tac­u­lar boat­ing and fish­ing opportunities. 

Nature lovers will appre­ci­ate the hun­dreds of acres of pro­tect­ed ripar­i­an habi­tat that help keep Butte County’s stretch of the Sacra­men­to Riv­er nat­u­ral­ly stunning.

Get on the River

Irvine Finch Riv­er Access

The Irvine Finch Riv­er Access area is a clas­sic start­ing point for riv­er tub­ing adven­tures and also has a ramp for motor­ized boats. There are sev­er­al grav­el bars down­stream where you and your friends can relax on smooth riv­er cob­ble. Those with fish­ing gear can try and catch salmon, steel­head trout, shad, or stur­geon. Easy to find right on the west side of the High­way 32 bridge, fees are $6 per vehi­cle and $5 per motor­ized boat. 

Three riv­er miles (and one-to-two float­ing hours) down­stream from Irvine Finch is the Pine Creek area. There is an access and take-out spot for tubes and non-motor­ized boats right where Pine Creek emp­ties into the Sacra­men­to Riv­er. Trav­el up Pine Creek to find Scotty’s Land­ing, Butte County’s famous river­side restau­rant. About a half of a mile up Pine Creek through a dense ripar­i­an wood­land is the Pine Creek Boat Launch with access for motor­ized boats. Park­ing is avail­able at sev­er­al points along Riv­er Road.

The Irvine Finch-to-Scotty’s Land­ing route is also the clas­sic route for the annu­al Labor Day float, a pop­u­lar send-off to the summer.

Lis­ten Up

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Oth­er Day-Use & Boat Launch Areas

Anoth­er three miles down­stream on the Sacra­men­to Riv­er is the Big Chico Creek day-use area. There, you can wash ashore on the Washout, with vehi­cle access the west side of Riv­er Road, or launch a non-motor­ized ves­sel into Big Chico Creek on the east side. The Washout is one of the best loca­tions in the area to splash around or even to cast a line right on the river’s edge.

The Bid­well-Sacra­men­to Riv­er State Park brochure includes help­ful infor­ma­tion on how to stay safe while float­ing or boat­ing the Sacra­men­to River.

For those who want a longer boat­ing excur­sion, it’s about 15 riv­er miles south to the Ord Bend Park Boat Launch and 19 riv­er miles north to the Wood­son Bridge State Recre­ation Area from Irvine Finch. These remote stretch­es of the Sacra­men­to Riv­er are stud­ded with var­i­ous units of the Sacra­men­to Riv­er Nation­al Wildlife Refuge sys­tem as well as State wildlife areas. This means gor­geous riv­er habi­tat, a huge diver­si­ty of birds and mam­mals, and seclud­ed boat-in only access points. Look for vis­i­ble signs from the riv­er of refuge and wildlife area units.

Explore by the Riv­er Shore

Hik­ing, Bird­ing & Fish­ing Locations

Even with­out a boat or a float, there are des­ti­na­tions scat­tered along the Sacra­men­to Riv­er that will make your family’s day. The Pine Creek Unit of the Sacra­men­to Riv­er Nation­al Wildlife Refuge is just half a mile east of the High­way 32 bridge and has two miles of walk­ing paths in a new­ly restored mag­net for migra­to­ry birds and local wildlife.

Bid­well-Sacra­men­to Riv­er State Park’s Pine Creek, Indi­an Fish­ery, and Big Chico Creek day-use areas all have pic­nic tables, bar­be­cues, and restrooms under a canopy of mature ripar­i­an trees. All three areas are acces­si­ble from Riv­er Road between High­way 32 and Chico Riv­er Road. 

The Indi­an Fish­ery has a short nature trail show­ing off a small oxbow lake as well as good fish­ing. Fur­ther south at the Big Chico Creek day-use area, the one-mile long Mug­wort Mead­ow Trail offers anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty to sur­round your­self with tow­er­ing cot­ton­wood, oak, and sycamore trees wrapped in wild grape and pipevine. 


The Irvine Finch Access Area on High­way 32 is 11 miles west of Inter­state 5 (Exit 619 in Orland). Com­ing from Chico, it’s about 10.5 miles from High­way 99 (Exit 385). The north­ern end of Riv­er Road inter­sects with High­way 32 a mile and a half east of the Sacra­men­to Riv­er bridge. 

Trav­el­ing south on Riv­er Road from High­way 32, you’ll pass by the Pine Creek Boat Launch in a half of a mile, Scotty’s Land­ing and the Pine Creek day use area in a mile, the Indi­an Fish­ery in two miles (at the inter­sec­tion of Riv­er Road and West Sacra­men­to Avenue), and the Big Chico Creek day use area in four miles. 

South of the Big Chico Creek Day Use Area, Chico Riv­er Road will take you back to Down­town Chico.